Children in Neath Port Talbot will soon be taking a leap into the future thanks to a hi-tech coding and robotics project being led by libraries and schools.
The unique ‘:bits & PCs’ scheme being launched later this year will offer young people in the area training using laptops and micro:bits with the aim of creating enthused, enabled and skilled coders across Port Talbot, Neath and Pontardawe.
It will also see Neath Port Talbot Library staff and teachers from participating schools given the chance to learn new digital skills and taught coding and microbit programme delivery.
They will also be shown how to create resources linked to the school curriculum and trained to deliver child-led coding sessions at all three of the borough’s central libraries.
Not-for-profit organisation A2B Active Sport CIC (A2B CIC), in conjunction with NPT Library Services has won grant funding for the scheme that is designed to tackle educational inequality and disparity of opportunity for schoolchildren in Neath Port Talbot (NPT).
‘:bits & PCs’ also aims to improve future employability prospects, enhance life chances and narrow the attainment gap for hundreds of children and adults in NPT.
Once the project is complete, NPT Library Services will be given 18 laptops and a large supply of micro:bits to enable them to offer Coding Clubs as a separate and sustainable programme.
A2B CIC Director Simon Pridham said: ‘’The UK has a digital skills crisis: it is estimated that the country’s digital skills gap costs the UK economy £63 billion in lost revenue. Wales sits bottom placed with regards the level of digital skills in the national workforce.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has knocked things back further and while matters are improving, much more needs to be done.
“In all relevant surveys conducted, education is listed as the key in developing digital opportunities. Literacy in coding provides a massive advantage in a technology driven economy. Traditional IT training teaches people how to consume IT; coding teaches them how to create it. Coding puts children and adults in control of the computer and lets them learn through experimentation, by mastering the concepts of logic and consequence’’
Mr Pridham also thanked Aberavon MP, Stephen Kinnock for his support in securing funding for the project through his annual funding fair.
He said: “ Stephen Kinnock is a very proactive and innovative MP, who is in tune with the needs of the community in Port Talbot. His help for this project has been invaluable; through his Funding Fair, which he holds every year in different venues around the town, not-for-profit organisations, charities, community groups, sports and social enterprises like A2B CIC, are able to meet funders face-2-face.
In doing so, we are able to run projects past the funders to gauge interest, obtain advice and forge personal relationships.”
Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock said: “It is essential that we give all children access to innovative and forward thinking educational programmes such as ‘:bits & PCs’ in order to bridge the digital skills gap and provide the best possible opportunities for long lasting and rewarding careers.
“I was delighted that A2B CIC was able to secure vital funding for this scheme through the connections they made at our annual funding fair which has seen many dream projects turned into a reality thanks to crucial financial assistance being accessed when it is needed the most.”
Pictured foreground from left: Stephen Kinnock MP, Nick Evans A2B CIC with NPT Library Services staff from left Sophie Davies, Cllr Peter A. Rees NPTCBC Cabinet Member for Education, Skills & Culture and Katrina Demery.
A2B Active Sport CIC (A2B CIC) is an independent, not-for-profit, Community Interest Company that works for the benefit of the residents of Neath Port Talbot and its surrounding communities.
It exists to inspire, enhance and present a greater range of high quality educational opportunities, physical activities, sporting options and artistic expression in response to the needs of the community, in order to create learning and participation pathways that lead to rich, healthy and rewarding lifestyles which can be pursued throughout adult life. For more information, please visit them online or contact them on email@example.com